FLU Season, an Ounce of Prevention
by Gail Kachnycz CRNP
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated.
There are some groups that are especially at high risk for complications and should make it a priority to talk to their doctor about getting the vaccine. These high risk groups include:
Children younger than 5 years, but especially younger than 2 years old. Adults 65 years or older. Pregnant women. People with chronic medical conditions, especially asthma.
Many of the children at PSD have asthma and are in this high risk group. Here's why: “Though people with asthma are not more likely to get the flu, influenza (flu) can be more serious for people with asthma, even if their asthma is mild or their symptoms are well- controlled by medication. This is because people with asthma have swollen and sensitive airways, and influenza can cause further inflammation of the airways and lungs. Influenza infection in the lungs can trigger asthma attacks and worsening of asthma symptoms. It can also lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases.” (CDC)
PSD nurses urge parents to contact their child’s doctor to discuss getting the flu vaccine. There are 2 methods of giving the vaccine: a shot/ needle and a nasal spray (Flumist). Children with asthma should not get the nasal spray. Your child’s doctor can determine which method is best for your child. If your primary doctor does not have a supply of flu vaccine, information about how to find a flu clinic in your area is at the end of this article.
What else can parents do to protect their children from the flu?
1. Be informed. The CDC website, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ has information just for parents. The web site is in 22 languages, including Spanish, Russian, Chinese, French.
2. Use good cough hygiene. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you have no tissue, cough into your elbow, not your hand.
3. Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap & water are not available, use alcohol based hand rub.
4. Know the symptoms of flu. These include: fever (100 F or above), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue. Some people will have vomiting or diarrhea.
5. IF YOUR CHILD IS ILL, KEEP HIM/ HER HOME. Keep home at least 24 hours after the fever is gone (without the use of a fever- reducing medication). Call PSD to report your child is absent and why, including symptoms (fever, cough, etc). Illness is EXCUSED absence. Your child needs to get well, and we want the teachers and children at school to stay well.
If your child's doctor recommends the flu vaccine, but does not have a supply, please call or e-mail the nurse's office for information on how to obtain a flu vaccine at a location near you.
ECC- Cathy Graf- 215-951-4719 - firstname.lastname@example.org
MAIN/NEVIL- Pam Boon- 215-951-4739 - email@example.com